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Docks and Harbors sets facility naming policy

Posted: December 2, 2011 - 12:04am

Rules for how and when to rename City and Borough of Juneau Docks and Harbors facilities have been approved ahead of a request to rename Douglas Harbor in memory of a Douglas resident.

A request is coming to the board to honor Mike Pusich, a former Douglas resident, and it turns out the department didn’t have any rules or guidelines for approving naming of its facilities. The Douglas Advisory Board has unanimously supported the change.

The new rules, said Port Director Carl Uchytil, follow the Parks and Recreation Department’s fairly closely. He said they differentiate between “real property” — tidelands, facilities including harbors, docks and ramps — and “consumable property,” small boats, vehicles and other equipment. The Assembly will have final approval of naming of “real property” following Docks and Harbors Board approval. For “consumable property,” it would require approval of the department board. Both Docks and Harbors approvals would require a two-thirds majority and a public hearing.

The new policy also outlines guidance for naming facilities after living people or organizations and separate guidance for deceased people.

For the living or organizations, naming will be considered when 50 percent of the value of property, facility or land is donated; “when ‘substantially all’ of the development is donated,” or when “a major contribution has been made” to the community or when “instrumental in acquiring or developing the property.”

For honoring those who have died, the guidance is “It should be a person who has made a major contribution to the community and/or who has been instrumental in acquiring or developing the property or facility.”

The consideration of using the name of a deceased person can’t take place until 36 months after the date of death.

Board member Budd Simpson said he wanted to keep locations in any renamings.

He said that most people outside of the Docks and Harbors meetings refer to Don Statter Harbor as Auke Bay. He said most people, because of geography, would still call Douglas Harbor by its geographic name even if it’s renamed.

“The Douglas/John Smith Harbor — that could give people a hint where it is,” Simpson said.

Board member Mike Williams agreed and expanded on the reasoning. He said three people with the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities approached him and asked the department keep location names in their facility names.

Williams said new people coming in, or others less familiar with the area may not know where “Mike Pusich Harbor” would be, but may have a better idea if Douglas were still in the title.

Uchytil said one idea he had for this kind of thing was using the wording “Michael Pusich Memorial at Douglas Harbor” or something along those lines.

“So you keep the … geographic name as well as the memorial,” Uchytil said. “I think it’s doable what you’re suggesting.”

Sharon Pusich Gill, the potential honoree’s granddaughter, was pleased the department spent so much time working through the rules.

“I want to thank you for your time and effort on this,” she said. “My grandfather would be extremely proud if this could be named after him. I think if you actually put Michael Pusich Memorial at Douglas Harbor it would make him even more happy.”

The only change that was made in the rules was removing a line that said renaming memorial facilities or adding names would not be allowed. Board member Eric Kueffner was opposed, saying they may wish to honor more people and if there was a need for a change it would be incredibly difficult with a policy barring it. Kueffner said if a change ever needs to be made, which he anticipates being a rare occurrence, there already will likely be a lot of difficulty involved.

Docks and Harbors will host a public hearing on Feb. 23 to discuss renaming Douglas Harbor.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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